education, family, hearing impairment, special education

It’s Called Compassion: Special Needs Acceptance

Recently a Facebook firestorm occurred about a mother and her 2 1/2 year old Autistic son’s haircut.  I am not here to debate what occurred, but do want to weigh in on how many treat special needs children and adults.  As a special education teacher for 17 years and a hearing impaired adult, enough already.  Parents, raise your children to embrace and be kind to others, but mostly accept that looking/sounding/walking/moving (get the idea?) differently is a part of all of us.

A few years ago our young family was at a restaurant, ironically in the same town as the above mentioned spa, when a special needs adult had a tantrum.  Our table was nearest to the gentleman as he had difficulty communicating with his mother and thus threw his salad.  The salad landed on my young son and I.  While  initially frightened for the mother’s safety and ours, I relaxed as I watched mom and the manager  calm the man down.  This is how society needs to act.  The manager did not kick the man out or yell at the mother, instead he asked mom how he could help.  Turns out the special needs man was upset that his pizza was taking longer than expected.  The manager took a similar pizza off the buffet line, boxed it, and handed it to the gentleman.  With a big smile, he managed a thank you and left a happy customer.  I imagine mom left knowing that she can venture out to eat at that restaurant again.

On the drive home that night, we talked with M, then 4, about how each of us is different.  Glasses, hearing aids, languages, mobility, speech, etc.; we are all human and deserve to be treated as such.  Where would I be if 37 years ago people shunned me for my hearing impairment?

Support differences, embrace change, and lend a hand when you see someone struggle.  It’s called compassion.

“The one thing I noticed after moving here was how everyone seemed to just accept Maura for who she was.  As the movers hauled boxes in, Maura danced around excitedly, ran up to one, babbled something incoherent and then took off again.  I said “Yeah, she has special needs…”

He just shrugged and said “Eh, there’s nothing wrong with that.”

It was different.  When I said the same thing in the states, that she had special needs, most of the time I’d get “oh, I’m sorry.”  Here – “nothing wrong with that.”  I mentioned this once while out with some women, and one explained how it’s probably because in Ireland, most people have a family member with special needs.  They don’t just see a weird child – they see their cousin, niece, brother or godchild.  There is an acceptance towards these children like nothing else I’ve experienced.  I hope to spread that experience.  We need more of that.  “    Rearranging Life: Herding Cats by Pheobe Holmes

hearing impairment

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Wicked (musical)
Wicked (musical) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why, yes, yes I did!

On a recent sunny Saturday,  I joined a few friends for a Wicked production.  The three of us suffer from various degrees of Tinnitus. Occasionally we share our ringing or noise stories.  Finally, I can share my bothersome experiences.

As the performance started, one thing became clear, crystal clear in fact.  Amazingly I heard every note, breathe, sigh.  Even thinking about it now, tears fill my eyes and heart.  For years, I have attended our local high school performances or community productions.  As entertaining, captivating as they are, my experience is often lack luster.  Walking away I am left curious and disappointed.  Our local Performing Arts Center is a new beautiful facility, yet acoustically I hear less than half of each production.  I laugh, because those around me do.  Tears only come as I glance around at others glistening eyes.  Missed it, my heart cries.

Wicked opened my ears and warmed my heart.  Finally.  I am not ashamed to admit it, I joyfully cried driving home.  If only every theatrical experience could be that rewarding.

hearing impairment, Uncategorized

Hand talker

I have never fancied myself a hand talker. Last weekend, while dining with friends, a waitress approached me wondering if I was attempting to flag her down via sign language. Nope, just animated me. However it caused me to think. I am hearing impaired yet can only fumble my ABC’s. Here was another young, much younger than I, lady with a hearing impairment, without hearing aids, teaching herself lipreading and taking sign language courses. Hmmm. Recently my hearing was reevaluated. Epic failure. Since my Latvian is elementary at best, perhaps my phalanges are better communicators. I do need to take a few graduate classes…and I am losing my hearing…

20130420-194647.jpgM trying his hand at the alphabet.

education, hearing impairment, special education

Special education students continue to get short-changed. Are we going back in time? I currently have 19 Learning Disabled, Emotionally Impaired, and other high needs students in a class. These students take the same state mandated tests. Their scores often bring down the overall school average. So does it make sense to add more in a class? Will suddenly their academic needs improve due to the presence of additional students? Is this the best solution to assisting disabled students in the general curriculum or prepare them for life after high school? No, no. no. Let’s stop balancing a budget on the backs of the neediest population. Better yet, stop balancing the budget with so-called educational reform. Come in to my classroom, sit down and stay awhile. Wait, that would require an extra seat.


Diane Ravitch's blog

Please don’t say this is school “reform.”

The state superintendent of education in Illinois wants to remove class size limits for special education.

Time to ask why the richest nation on earth can’t afford to provide a free and appropriate education for children with the greatest needs.

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education, family, hearing impairment, parenting, Saving money

Epic Failure


I failed.  First time ever.  Okay so not a pass/fail kind of thing, but still, it felt horrible.  Tears brimmed my eyes.  I held it together.  Until I got to the car.  Flood gates opened.  Out rushed years of frustration and pain, heartache over what’s to come.  Mumbles my husband could vaguely comprehend.


A hearing test.  Over the years my hearing has stayed relatively the same.  A happy medium I like to say.  For the first time, since I can recall, I dipped.  More than a few dB s.  Five to ten dB s to be exact, across the scale.


For the first time in my life, I obsessed how long I’ll have hearing my daughter’s ridiculous laugh, M’s sweet stories, little man’s hilarious ramblings, or my husband’s lovely “sirdspukite”.   Looking back I went to the deep end, I know.  However, I cherish my limited hearing.


What’s next I asked Cari, my super cool audiologist.  Her diagnosis?  New hearing aids.  Cough, cough, swallow deep.  What’s that going to run me, I asked.  $3000-3400.  Yikes!!  More deep breaths.  A piece she punches in.  Whoa, I silently gagged.  Sure my insurance will pay about $1500 a piece.  Do the math.  $6800 – 3000 insurance = $3800 out-of-pocket.  Yeah, we have it, but it is set aside for the eventually, hopefully sale of house one.  Or when our 13-year-old, no payment van reaches its final days.  It’s there and I do not like to touch it, ever.

The temporary solution was to beef up my current daily dependencies.  I bought some time without paying a dime.  But the capabilities of these aids has almost been reached.

Next stop, the ENT.  Something must be wrong.  No, I know my outlook.  Irreparable nerve damage.

If only I could put the positive part of losing to being down 5-10 pounds.


education, family, hearing impairment, parenting, special education

Green with Envy


I’ve been bitten.  And it hurts.  I hate jealousy, but right now it stings my soul.  For almost 36 years, hearing aids and I are Thing 1 and Thing 2, inseparable.




Recently my father, a relative newbie in the hard of hearing world, purchased new hearing devices.  High end ones.   So good that he sat in the rear seat of a mini-van with two chatting kids, a radio chiming Christmas tunes, and my mom and I gabbing away…soon he piped in, “Jude (my mom), just so you know, I can hear everything that you are saying.”  What?!  I was in the front seat, closer to the action and I could not hear elements of the car ride.    In addition to the new ear “toys”, he also is benefiting from a new Assistive Listening Device  to enable him to hear the TV clearly.  Again, jealous!




The hubs and I have limited technology cell phones.  Over the holidays, our gift to each other?  New phones!  Yeah.  But I hate cell phone shopping.  Instead of just looking over the phone and discussing the technology, megapixel, 3G vs 4G, etc, I am stuck asking about M/T ratings.  And no one. ever. knows!  Also, I ask to take a call on the phones.  Most salespeople do not understand and instead act annoyed.  Ugh.  Yes, I am looking forward to an advanced cell phone technology, but am not ready for the 1/2 day process.




Someday, when the pocketbook is not busy saving for when house #1 sells or busy raising three little ones, I will splurge on new ear candy.  Until then, all I want for Christmas is two rockin‘ aids.








Hearing aid
Ear Bling!
Hearing aid (Photo credit: Soitiki)










education, family, hearing impairment


I have never been one for trendiness.  Remember the asymmetrical hair of the 80s?  That was never me.  The closest I came was when my brother drove a Stomper truck through my long hair and mom had to cut the wheels out.  Yikes!

Teaching high schoolers gives me a lot of insight on sights I just do not understand.  Where do these trends come from?  What makes it hip?  Almost 40 and I still do not understand.  Is there a science behind it?

Trends I do not understand:

Socks with flip-flops.  I get wool socks with Berks.   That was so me in college.  In fact I wish I had a pair of Berks now!  I am talking about thong flip-flops with socks or athletic flip-flops.  Okay, I understand the need to do that while heading to or from an athletic practice or while nursing an injury, but everyday?  Sometimes with knee-high socks?  That I will not understand.

Baggy butt pants.  Why?  Why do we need to see your boxers or tightie whities?  Or what is the point of wearing boxers, shorts, and then pants, only to have 2 of 3 hang low?  Is this a style or is this laziness?  What if you have an “accident”?  Then what?  The style went from baggy all over pants with undies showing, to skinny jeans with a baggie rear.  What?  Why?  I will never understand.

Sweatshirts worn on the arms only.  Do not understand?  Imagine putting arms in a sweatshirt before pulling it over the noggin.  STOP.  Understand?  Why?  Instead, wear a long sleeve shirt instead of the skimpy top.  If arms are cold and full of goose bumps, invest in arm warmers or long sleeve shirts.  Next they try carrying books, writing papers, or typing with a sweatshirt restraint on.  Awkward!

Piercing parties.  Not familiar?  Imagine going to a friend’s house for her to pierce your belly.  In turn, yep you got it, you pierce her whatever.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  And no, no, no.

Phone addiction.  You just talked  to your BFF or mom, why do you need to text him/her just minutes later, while in class?  When did it become okay for parents to text a kid during school hours?  Why is it the schools fault that your student was getting an education and did not immediately text back?  And yes, Miss Seventeen, you can live without your phone.  It’s called face to face time.  Try it, you will be better prepared in life than relying on your phone 24/7.  Also, do not tell me that you are falling asleep in class because you were texting at 3 in the morning.  Surely the messages were less important than knowing how to formulate a hypothesis, develop a personal narrative or learn the core democratic values.

Fake eye wear.  I know there are some pretty funkadelic spectacles out there, but why?  Will the trend change to fake hearing wear?  Will it suddenly be cool to sport sparkly imitation hearing aids?  That is a trend I would enjoy.  Perhaps it is time for me to jump on the trendy bandwagon.

Next stop fashion 101 and fake hearing aids, pants with undies attached, cell phones that magically shut off within in the school zone,  and sweatshirt arm warmers.  Trend icon, here I come!